WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted 31 small oil refineries waivers from 2018 requirements to use renewable fuel. The agency last week also denied six refinery applications for waivers from the 2018 quotas.
The number of waivers was fewer than in previous years and marked an increase in the number of petitions rejected. Three applications were withdrawn, EPA said.
Under EPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, a small refinery may be granted a temporary exemption from its annual Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) if it can demonstrate that compliance with the RVOs would cause the refinery to suffer disproportionate economic hardship. EPA evaluates submissions to determine whether an exemption may be granted, based on information presented by the petitioning refinery and on the statutory and regulatory requirements for exemption.
There was conflicting reaction to EPA’s announcement on these exemptions. Some in the oil refiner community supported EPA’s use of these waivers in order to reduce their obligations under the RFS. The corn grower and ethanol industry, on the other hand, objected to EPA’s action, which represents 4 billion gallons of biofuel that will not be put into the market. In the past, NACS has shared concerns regarding the small refiner exemption process, urging for more transparency in the criteria used to grant a waiver and making sure the final decision on these applications are made public to everyone at the same time so that all market participants have the same information at the same time.